Stoops stopped some rumors late Saturday night as he joined the KSR postgame show, and was asked if he would be the coach of Kentucky next season.
“Absolutely,” Stoops said. “I mean, I don’t appreciate you putting me on the spot like that. I come on your show and give you my time. Really appreciate you and the way you get the fans fired up — but I love the Big Blue Nation. Yes, I absolutely plan on being here.”
He continued with this:
“Let’s put it this way, I’m going to work tomorrow,” Stoops said. “I’m on my way home, my butt’s gonna get in bed, I’m going to be at my office tomorrow, and I’m going to hit the pavement this week to go get us some players.”
All of that was before news broke Sunday that Lincoln Riley would be leaving Oklahoma to take the head coaching position at the University of Southern California.
Shortly after Stoops name began to circulate, with Brandon Marcello of 247 Sports calling the Kentucky head ball coach an “easy hire” and the “perfect candidate.”
“Kentucky coach Mark Stoops, the younger brother of OU legend Bob Stoops, has become a Bluegrass legend in nine years but there’s not much else to accomplish at the basketball-first school buried in the SEC,” Marcello writes. “The opportunity to lift the Sooners out of a state of confusion and contend immediately for championships in the Big 12 and later the SEC is too obvious for the younger Stoops to overlook — and it’s too simple of a decision for athletics director Joe Castiglione to overthink.”
“Stoops’ turnaround at Kentucky is so impressive, one day a street (and maybe Kroger Field) will be bear his name in Lexington. He is an incredible 46-27 since starting his career at the downtrodden program with a 12-26 record in the first two-plus seasons. He’s only two career victories (58) behind Paul “Bear” Bryant for the school’s record. No other coach in Kentucky history has coached as many games as Stoops, who has the Wildcats at 9-3 entering the postseason and also won 10 games at the school three years ago. If there is a time to leave, the time is now. He would be foolish to not jump at the opportunity to coach the Sooners, a school built to win national championships. With his brother, Big Game Bob, at his side, Mark would need no time to understand the surroundings in Norman.”
Marcello continued by pointing out Stoops track record as a recruiter in the Midwest, and also spoke to how a program like Oklahoma could not only afford to pay his buyout ($1.75 million) but also try and double his salary ($5.25 million) from where it sits at Kentucky.
It has been widely assumed only a handful of jobs would draw Stoops out of Lexington, and this might just be one of them if they come calling. Obviously his brother had his fair share of success in Norman, and as Marcello says he does seem to be one of the logical candidates for the position.
Ultimately I think Stoops stays at Kentucky, but there will be some work to be done by Mitch Barnhart and this athletic department.
Welcome to the coaching carousel Big Blue Nation. It’s only just begun.